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Nokia Comes With Music review

 Review: October 2008  

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: Nokia Comes With Music gives you a whole year of free unlimited music downloads that you can keep forever!



Sounds too good to be true? There are just two catches. The first catch is that the downloaded tracks can only be played on your Nokia Comes With Music phone and one registered PC. The second catch is that you cannot buy the service on its own - you have to buy a Comes With Music phone. Even so, the Comes With Music phones are not particularly expensive, and when you consider what one year of free music downloads is worth, we think that you'll agree that this is incredible value for money.

This isn't a phone review, it's a review of Nokia's "Comes With Music" service, launched on 16th October 2008. It's going to be a little different from our usual style, as we're going to take an in-depth look at exactly how the service works, with screenshots so you can see the full details. We're really impressed with Comes With Music, and we want to show you just how good it really is, as well as explain some of the important details. Because, as you know, the devil is always in the detail.

"Comes With Music" is a simple proposition: when you buy a Nokia Comes With Music phone, for a whole year you can download as many tracks as you like and play them on your registered PC and phone. At the end of the year when your membership finishes, you get to keep the downloads. This sounds almost too good to be true! A whole year of downloads - you could download thousands upon thousands of songs for free and keep them forever! This is such a good deal that we decided to check it out in detail and look for hidden catches ...

So, the phone we're reviewing is the Nokia 5310 Comes With Music, a version of the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic phone that has been a big seller for Nokia in 2007/2008. It isn't the latest and greatest, but it's a good mid-range phone that's excellent at playing music. The 5310 Comes With Music is distinguished by coming in a choice of 7 different colours that differentiate the phone from the standard 5310. Apart from that, it's the same phone.

OK, so we open the box, charge up the phone, and spend an hour or so installing the Nokia PC Suite and Nokia Music software on our PC. It's not as easy to install as Samsung's PC Studio software, but it's easier than Sony Ericsson's offering. Allow an hour to get it done. The software requires a PC running Windows Vista or Windows XP2 with Service Pack 2. Mac users - forget it! Once installed, we have full access to the Nokia Music Store, which contains millions of tracks. Just click on the "Join Now" button to create an account (make sure that you connect your phone with the "Printing & Media" option selected - not obvious!), type in the PIN that comes with the CD-ROM and you can now download everything you see for free. OMG, we feel like kids in a sweet shop. All the music is there and it's free! For those not familiar with Nokia Music, it's very much like iTunes (OK, for those not familiar with iTunes, it's very much like Nokia Music ...) The welcome screen (shown below) shows you new releases, top singles, top albums, bestsellers (not sure how bestsellers are different to top singles or albums, but what the heck) and genres. If you see something you like you just click on the download button, and it's yours. For free. Forever. It really is!

So, we like the look (and the sound) of Razorlight, Wire to Wire. We click on it and we get a screen like this one below. Some basic info, a picture and some suggestions about other stuff we might like. Yeah, might click on those in a minute. But first ... we click the orange download button and the track is downloaded to our PC.

Once downloaded, we can play the track immediately on the PC within Nokia Music. We can create playlists by dragging and dropping our downloaded tracks. We can also tweak the audio quality using the equaliser and the volume settings.

Within Nokia Music, we can review our playlists and browse by Artist, Album or Genre and view recently added tracks. You can also type into the search box to look for something specific. Exploring the Nokia Music Store is fun, as there are plenty of ways to search. As well as browsing the top 40 singles and albums, new releases and genres, there are also sample playlists that you might like to search through. We've already shown how the store makes suggestions of other music you may like when you download a track. The fact is that there are literally millions of tracks here for download, and the selection is very comprehensive. We were worried that the Comes With Music service might give access to a restricted subset of the Nokia Music Store, but no, everything is here. It really is amazing. The one thing missing is a "download all" button!

Once you have your music downloaded to your PC, it's then very easy to transfer it to your phone using the Nokia Music software. Here's how. Plug the phone into your PC using the USB cable supplied. Again select the "Printing and Media" option on your phone to connect to Nokia Music. Now on your PC in the Nokia Music software, choose "My Music" and drag and drop tracks or playlists to the picture of your phone on the left hand side. We must confess that we couldn't transfer playlists from the PC to the phone. It's clearly possible to do it, we just couldn't figure out how in the time available to do this review. That's an indication that the software isn't always as intuitive as it might be, particularly the communications between phone, PC and Nokia Music software. Oh well, you can't always have everything. We'll live with it.

Anyway, you now have music on your phone as well as your PC. You can't transfer it anywhere else though, as it is protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions. You can't burn it to CD either. This is the Comes With Music deal.

Now there are a few questions that spring to mind, and we're going to try to answer them here.

Can I buy "Comes With Music" without buying a new phone?
No, you can't subscribe to the service separately. You have to buy a new Comes With Music phone to get the Comes With Music service.

What happens after my one year of free downloads?
After your subscription has ended, you get to keep all the downloaded music forever. You can change either your registered PC or registered mobile device once very three months for a period of two years.

Can I extend my subscription period?
Each Comes With Music device comes with a set subscription period to the service. You can extend the subscription only by purchasing another Comes With Music device. Your subscription period will then start from the beginning. Any remaining subscription time on the previous device is lost, as you can only have one Comes With Music device registered to your account at a time.

Can I register another PC?
You can only register one PC at a time for the service. During your subscription period, you can change your registered PC once every three months.

Can I transfer my music to another Nokia phone?
During your subscription period, you cannot move your downloaded music to a new phone unless you buy a new Comes With Music phone. After your subscription has ended, you can change either your registered PC or registered mobile device once very three months for a period of two years.

Can I use "Comes With Music" if I don't have a PC?
Yes, you can do everything via your phone if you like. It's not such a good environment for browsing the Nokia Music Store, and it will take longer to download tracks.

What format are the tracks?
The tracks are WMA format.

Which phones have Comes With Music, and where can I buy them?
Initially the only phones that have it are the Nokia 5310 Comes With Music and the Nokia N95 8GB Comes With Music. They are available exclusively from the Carphone Warehouse.

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Nokia Comes With Music user reviews

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Average rating from 18 reviews:

Reviewed by Josh from Australia on 28th Jun 2010
Awesome idea, appalling execution. True, you get unlimited music. Can't complain about the drm since that's made clear at the outset. What's not made clear is that the whole service is incredibly buggy, and the support from nokia is THE WORST I have ever experienced of any comparable company - the phone operators you reach have absolutely no idea about the service, if you ask to speak to the manager, they promise a call back that usually doesn't come. This is a huge problem for a service that constantly breaks. Every time a new patch comes out for the OVI Player, it stops working. Every time they upgrade their servers, your drm breaks and you can't listen to anything you downloaded before the upgrade. I can imagine that if everything is running smoothly this would be a great service. But with the whole thing crashing frequently, and without adequate support, this is just a major frustration. I recommend going for a different unlimited music deal (or for those in Australia, like me, where nothing else is available yet, waiting until something else comes along).

Reviewed by Peter from UK on 29th Dec 2009
I've had this on a Nokia XpressMusic 5800 for a month now and still can't quite believe what an incredible bargain it is: quite literally, unlimited access to a music store comparable in size to iTunes or Amazon's Mp3 site. If, like me, you usually purchase a few albums a month, having a subscription to CWM could mean you saving hundreds of pounds over the year - far outweighing the 5 a month (if that) that the service seems to cost, not to mention the costless broadening of your musical horizons that the service permits. Sure, the music does have DRMs on it restricting its use to your mobile device and PC, but the 5800 has pretty decent sound quality (it has replaced my Sony Walkman as mp3 player of choice) so this hasn't been a problem for me. The presence of this DRM also means, as one reviewer has pointed out, that you can't use the music downloaded as ring tones, but again, who cares? If, after hours of costless experimental downloading you find a tune you'd like to use as your ringtone (or on another device), then it's simply a case of going to Amazon or similar and splashing out a full 29-79p for the lack of DRM. Most people don't seem to change their ringtone very often so this is unlikely to be a huge (or expensive) problem. Further, it may well not run on a Mac (I can't verify this as I run the software of a PC), but strictly speaking this isn't a problem as you can (subject to any data charges you may have) download songs directly from the Nokia music store on to your phone. Doubtless a pretty slow way to do it but a nice option nevertheless. Instead, the main problems I've found with the service are: -The need for the phone to verify the DRM before playing the track, which has frozen the phone a few times and which only a power off can cure. -The relatively slow transfer speed from the PC to the phone, as well as the varying download speeds from the music store. Both however can be mitigated with careful planning. However, this is pretty small beer, and in my opinion are inconveniences well worth putting up with considering the astounding benefit of unlimited access to a huge music store. In short, if you're a (PC-owning) music fan this service comes highly recommended, particularly given the pretty decent handset (the 5800 XpressMusic) typically bundled with it.

Reviewed by Cam from UK on 28th Dec 2009
I would not recommend this to be honest. Yes, you get free music for a whole year and all that BUT you cannot do anything with the music. You cannot put any songs onto a CD to listen in the car or on a CD player, you cannot set any of the songs as a ringtone, and you cannot sync the music with any other MP3. The only thing you can do is listen to it on your pc or your phone. Thats it. You are really restriced to your own music. I might as well have just gone on Youtube and listen to songs on there, because thats what it is like. The music doesnt feel like yours. After the subscription ends will i then be free to do what i want with my music? No, i doubt it. Also, i doubt i will have this computer forever, so i wont have my music 'forever' because if you change your pc a certain number of times you cant keep the music. Im annoyed because the people at the phone shop told me i could keep the music and then do whatever i want with it, its my music. Sadly, this isnt the case.

Reviewed by simon from uk on 8th Dec 2009
rubbish, no good if you own a mac !!! you never own the music as you cant even use it as a ring tone, dont bother, just get an i phone and stick to i tunes !!!

Reviewed by Timmy P from UK on 1st Oct 2009
Couldn't wait to get started, so excited at the possibility to have all the music I want downloaded to my Nokia 5800 !! It is the most frstrating and useless piece of software/product call it what you like I have ever experienced . At the start I could download music from Nokia to my PC but never from my PC to my phone. I could at the start go to the Music store on my phone and download music directly to the phone. Now nothing !! You try and speak to "Nokia Care" and they either hang up on you , promise to phone back and never do or just follow their scripts for solutions and clearly have never seen or uded Comes with Music themselves. How Nokia could get it so wrong is beyond me, great idea very very poor in practice and you get the feeling no one at Nokia cares. Would never reccommend it to anyone. Dear dear me......

Reviewed by rob from uk on 16th Jul 2009
Recieved my nokia 5800 with a 2 year sub to this last week, the service is excellent, easy install on the pc, just follow the on-screen instructions. once you open up "nokia music" your spoilt for choice, endless amounts of albums, tracks, ready made playlists, easy to make your own playlist, downloading is simple and fast, transfer to the phone is just as easy, connect to pc via the transfer cable, choose media transfer on the phone and either drag and drop to the phone icon or right click and choose your device. The only downsize to this is that my pc's 500gb hd might soon fill up ;-) quality service 6 stars from me

Reviewed by Asaf from UK on 11th Jun 2009
Tracks download to the computer fast and simple, however, getting them into the phone is extremely slow and fails every couple of songs, with unclear error messages. After few tries Nokia Music crashed.

Reviewed by declan from uk on 7th Apr 2009
OMG!!! this service is so good! ... the review is true, you feel like a kid in a sweet shop. you just HAVE to go download crazy... i dont yet know when this phase stops... the service is brilliant

Reviewed by M. from UK on 4th Apr 2009
Useless piece of rubbish. Managed to transfer a few tracks a couple of weeks ago after having to reformat my phone SIM card, and I can't transfer anything else (plenty of space in my card). No one to contact for any assistance. Absolutely rubbish. Phone is great, but if what you want is the music, forget it, you're pretty much screwed.

Reviewed by Amanda from uk on 1st Mar 2009
I love love love it! Absolutely amazing, it's so good it must be illegal somehow!?

Reviewed by jed from uk on 22nd Feb 2009
check out tunebite to transfer music drm free and legally to any other computer/ mac/ i-tunes etc then keep forever. stonkingly excellent value.

Reviewed by John R from Scotland on 18th Feb 2009
Just bought a 5310 today and have been quite impressed with the library of music available from Nokia. However i've just searched for the Arctic Monkeys and it seems none of their music is available from "Comes with Music". Kinda disappointed with them being such a big name but i'd still highly recommend it. Unlimited downloads and a reasonably decent handset for just over 90 is an absolute bargain!

Reviewed by Steve Smith from England on 14th Feb 2009
Absolutly useless is the only way to describe the set up for the 'comes with music'. There is nobody to contact for any assistance. Nokia music will not recognise the phone. Very disappointed

Reviewed by MikeyB from UK on 10th Feb 2009
This has to be the bargin of the year! 82.17 for an acceptable nokia music phone (shame the 5800XpressMusic package isnt available yet!But, that will be my next upgrade!!) and as Stef commented, if you follow the instructions carefully, all that music to choose from and download! I'm like a kid in a sweet shop! Well done Nokia and Carphone Warehouse for an outstanding package, should be worth 6,7,8+ Stars!

Reviewed by Jools from UK on 7th Feb 2009
Installation is very frustrating, I can download tracks easily enough but can't transfer them to my phone, I have ben trying for a day or so now

Reviewed by Stef from UK on 8th Jan 2009
You have to follow the instruction to install etc... ptrety carefully - but if you do what it says on the box, it does what it says on the tin - 5,000+ tracks downloaded so far - all at lightening speed, all with the right names and track numbers and CD covers etc... all stratigh accross to my phone. From the review - to sync a play list just make a play list and then drag it to the phone in the application???

Reviewed by Jim from UK on 4th Jan 2009
The software for installing this item is very poor, the activastion PIN cannot be entered and the whole set up is extremely frustrating

Reviewed by wong jing from china province on 11th Dec 2008
vely good. x

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